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Opinions of Saturday, 23 July 2016

Columnist: Samson Lardy Anyenini

Samson's Take: The NMC's wrong and the wrong headlines

Today I dedicate my take to empathise a rejoinder.

Earlier this week, the NMC issued a rather rare statement on the outcome of its determination of a petition by the Attorney-General against Super Morning Show host, Kojo Yankson.

I represented Kojo in the complaint settlement processes over the A-G's disquiet about Kojo's comments in January alleging she had told him after the President media encounter, among others that she was not involved in processes leading to Ghana accepting to host the famous 'GITMO 2'.

Media reports attributed to the NMC that Kojo lied, is a fabrication not found in the NMC's release.

The MNC didn't point that out to the media, we did, and all of them retracted the false claim and attribution.

The Daily Graphic pretends to be unaware of this and chose to re-tell the lie just yesterday.

I state categorically that there was never any such finding nor ruling. In fact, during the determination of the Petition, on July 13, Chairman of the NMC who also chaired proceedings was emphatic that he could NOT say either party “lied”.

The NMC's record did not also include any finding or ruling that Kojo's comments were “misleading”, but that he had been “unfair to the Attorney General” because a couple of media protocols were not observed:

• First, that he did not adequately identify himself to the AG when he approached her and did not inform her that their conversation was in fact, an interview.

• Second, that even though the A-G admitted portions of the statement, she disputed a part, and that the disputed part “cannot be substantiated.”

This is the part where Kojo stated in the impugned broadcast of January 13 that the AG told him she had not been involved in processes towards bringing the GITMO 2 to Ghana. The part she admitted was that she told Kojo to contact the foreign affairs ministry for answers to his questions.

In fact, Kojo has accepted that he should not have assumed the A-G knew him from prior telephony conversations and his earlier self-introduction when he asked the President a question during that press event with the President.

He should not have assumed that the fact that they were at a press conference presupposed that their interaction was an interview.

Security protocol at the Flagstaff House on the day made it impossible for conversations to be recorded as recording devices and phones were not allowed in. It is, therefore, impossible to substantiate the disputed portion of the conversation.

The NMC must note that it's Complaint Settlement Committee is certainly a body of record and its decisions and actions are subject to judicial review in our courts.

Why it circulated a release using the word "misleading", which was never a finding of fact nor part of its ruling on the record, is disturbing, to say the least.

Is this the same NMC that has been complaining about the lack of cooperation for these processes? Some simply refuse to comply with its decisions and won't even attend these hearings because the law is that it cannot compel anybody to attend.

I have given the NMC my full support in its crucial role and will continue to. That's why I oversaw all Multimedia staff taken through its content standards regulations in positive preparations for full compliance even when it was being challenged in court.

I have a couple of cases before it, and I trust it to discharge its duty which is a major part of ensuring high ethical and professional standards in the media.

I have respect for the NMC. But I am disappointed in this release contrary to the written record of its finding and ruling on this case, and its silence on the fabrication attributed to it in some reports.